Fear: Perception vs. Reality

While I was out walking, I saw this shadow of a spider on the ground today and had to laugh. If my daughter would have been with me, she would have panicked. She’s terrified of spiders and likely will destroy her house one day trying to kill one.

Now, I am always of the opinion that a little fear is a good thing. It keeps us on our toes. I don’t go around picking up every spider I see but I also don’t get a blow torch to take one out. It’s kind of a “live and let live” situation for me. But if seeing a spider in my house kept me from entering the room it was in or rearranging my day to avoid it, well, that’s a different story.

99% of the spiders we will come across in our lifetime will be harmless. They just appear bigger and more intimidating than they really are. Likewise, with most of the things we fear—we let our minds take us to places that we’ll likely never go. We are paralyzed. We cannot make the choice to kill the spider or ignore it and move on.

I think I’ve said before that I am the Queen of What Ifs and What Wills. What if I do this? What will the repercussions be? Will I end up in a worse spot than I am in now? Will I destroy everything I’ve worked for? This kind of thinking leaves me in stasis. I stay in the same sad situation and live with the known fear because of fearing the unknown.

BUT… What if I reach out and stomp that spider into a greasy spot on the floor? Or just walk into that room, knowing that hairy eight-legged creature is there, and carry on about my day the way I had planned? I have faced my fear, conquered it and moved on with my life. I am no longer hindered by the unknown because I am now in control of my fear instead of my fear being in control of me.

I realize that many people would welcome a spider compared to what they are facing—marriages falling apart, serious issues with children, medical diagnoses, et al—and I am not making light of these things. They would terrify the hell out of me too. I’m referencing situations where we feel stuck and miserable and refuse to make changes because of fear. What if I make a career change? Will I fail? Will I like the new job less than I did my old one? What if I start checking off those ridiculous items on my bucket list? Will I be able to stand on skates? Will I sink instead of swim?

It’s nerve-racking to try something different, to step out and try something new but it’s equally as nerve-racking to live trapped and unhappy. I’m not suggesting that my daughter should become an arachnologist, but she does need to put the flame thrower down. Every time we face a fear and overcome it, we build courage, strength and confidence and that, my friends, is a good thing.

The next time you’re facing your spider, either stomp that sucker into smithereens or choose to live with it but refuse to give it power over your life any longer. You can do it!